Objective: A recurring question is whether evidence from systematic reviews has any impact on medical practice. We have studied this question in relation to some conclusions in seven reports, where relatively simple means to monitor trends could be used.
Results: As recommended, in the report preoperative routines, the number of preoperative examinations diminished at six hospitals, during around 3,000 operations studied, a savings of SEK 130 million. After the report on moderately elevated blood pressure, moderately elevated blood pressure sales of the preferred drugs, diuretics and beta-blockers, stopped falling while calcium blockers and ACE inhibitors stopped rising. As concluded in the report, general prostate cancer screening has not been introduced, but tests as a sign of opportunistic screening have increased. Bone density measurements were not recommended for screening, and sales of equipment have declined after the report. The use of neuroleptics as unspecific calming therapy for old persons was discouraged due to the serious side effects. The frequency of patients given this medication diminished from 34% to 28% at nursing homes after 1 year. For smoking cessation, the use of nicotine substitution medications has increased, which is in line with suggestions presented in the report. For stomach pain proton pump inhibitors given for functional dyspepsia have diminished in a region of the country after special efforts to disseminate the message.
Conclusions: It appears to be possible to monitor changes in practice corresponding to selected conclusions in systematic reviews. After rather extensive disseminating efforts, some results look encouraging.